To ensure perfectly-cooked meat, check doneness with a meat thermometer. Using a meat thermometer is the only way to accurately tell if your food is safe to eat. Plus, it's your best kitchen helper to prevent overcooked, tough meat that not even the dog would want to eat.

By BH&G Food Editors
Updated July 11, 2020

An accurately calibrated meat thermometer is a kitchen must-have! If you don't have one, stop reading and go buy one now. You need one to be sure you're feeding your family safe food. Here's how to use use the two types of meat thermometers.

A dial-type meat thermometer like this can be left in while cooking meat.

Oven-Going Meat Thermometer

For larger meat cuts, such as roasts and whole chickens or turkeys, insert a oven-going meat thermometer before roasting or grilling. This type of thermometer can remain in the meat while roasting in the oven or cooking on the grill.

To use an oven-going meat thermometer: Insert thermometer at least two inches into the center of the largest muscle or thickest portion of the uncooked meat. The thermometer should not touch any fat, bone, or the pan. That would result in an inaccurate temperature reading. When the meat reaches the desired final temperature as specified in your recipe, push in the thermometer a little farther. If the temperature drops, continue cooking the meat. If it stays the same, remove the meat from the oven or grill.

Cover meat with foil and let it stand about 15 minutes before carving. Its temperature will rise 5°F to 10°F during the standing time.

Left: The proper way to use instant-read meat thermometers, both dial and digital-types.
Right: The proper way to use instant-read meat thermometers, both dial and digital-types.

Instant-Read Meat Thermometers

Instant-read meat thermometer come in both dial and digital varieties. These are inserted into the meat outside of the oven and give an instant reading (hence the name).

Dial instant-read thermometer: The stem of the thermometer needs to be inserted at least two inches into the food. For thinner foods, such as burgers and chops, insert the stem through the side of the meat cut to get an accurate reading. The thermometer will register the temperature in 15 to 20 seconds. This type of meat thermometer should not be left in food while it's cooking.

Digital instant-read thermometer: The thermometer's probe should be placed at least 1/2 inch into the food and will register the temperature in about 10 seconds. This type of thermometer can be used to check the doneness of larger cuts as well as thinner foods, such as burgers, steaks, and chops. The thermometer should not be left in the food while it's cooking.

Get our roasting chart for all meats and levels of doneness.

Comments (1)

October 5, 2018
I started using a Meat thermometer when I realized that bacterias remain in a cooked food with the wrong temperature, finally, I have found amazing Thermometer very often and very satisfied with it.